8 brilliant ways to visit Britain without leaving Philly

The Dandelion, Stephen Starr’s pub-theme restaurant at 18th and Sansom Streets. (Akira Suwa / Staff Photographer )

The cold snap has broken. And now, before being cooped up inside causes you to get into a kerfuffle with your mate, consider setting out on an international holiday. If the Sixers can hop across the pond for a game against the Celtics, why can’t you do something similar?

You don’t even need a passport to do it. This month brings the Philadelphia Orchestra’s annual Winter Festival, which for 2018 draws its inspiration from the British Isles (select dates through Jan. 26). To coincide with it, we’ve put together a guide that invites you travel across waters and experience a taste of Britain — without ever stepping foot outside our own City of Brotherly Love.

From cozy pubs to an afternoon tea room to dapper shopping spots, there’s a wealth of ways to get your Brit on here in Philadelphia.

Camera icon Courtesy of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra focus on the British Isles in this year’s Winter Festival.

1. Let the “Fabulous Philadelphians” transport you.

First things first, book tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Winter Festival, as seats tend to fill up quickly for these stationary trips abroad. Nine musical performances will unfold during the next three weeks at the Kimmel Center featuring notable composers like Haydn, Handel, and Beethoven — all inspired by UK locations, including Scotland and Ireland. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the first two weeks, then hands off the baton to Fabio Luisi.

Through Jan. 26 at the Kimmel Center, $37-$116, 215-893-1999, philorch.org.

2. Enjoy a full English breakfast.

Nothing will make you feel more like a Brit than waking up with a plate full of baked beans and black pudding. On Saturdays and Sundays at the Dandelion, find these two classic English treats paired with eggs, Cumberland sausage, tomato, bacon, and fried bread. The hearty meal coupled with the crackling fireplace at the charming restaurant create a welcoming start for a weekend winter day.

Brunch served 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, English breakfast $16.50, other menu items from $6 (porridge) to $52 (a roast for two with Yorkshire pudding and all the fixings, Sundays only), 124 S. 18th St., 215-558-2500, thedandelionpub.com.

3. Get suited up downtown with dapper British attire.

Center City is home to several British brands, including luxury-fashion-oriented Barbour and the more youthful Jack Wills, located just blocks from one another on Walnut Street. Start at Barbour, where you’ll find a selection of barn-style jackets for both men and women along with an array of Oxford shirts for the chaps. Then head west to Jack Wills, where tweed blazers in a variety of colors await both men and women, alongside traditional Chelsea boots to finish your look.

Barbour, 1517 Walnut St., 215-255-8420, barbour.com. Jack Wills, 1617 Walnut St., 215-751-1055, jackwills.com.

Camera icon MICHAEL S. WIRTZ
The Mary Cassatt Tea Room at the Rittenhouse serves a proper English tea, with bubbly.

4. Treat yourself to a high tea experience.

Put on your new dapper outfit and head over to the Mary Cassatt Tea Room, located at the Rittenhouse Hotel. Tea time begins daily at 2 p.m., inviting you to temporarily escape from the hustle and bustle of life with a warm cup of Earl Grey, English breakfast, or one of the many other tea options. A selection of light bites crafted by the chef at Lacroix adds to the experience, allowing you to sample tea sandwiches, fresh baked scones, elegant sweets. The $55 price includes a glass of  sparkling wine — or upgrade to a glass of true champagne with an $80 package.

High tea served 2-5 p.m. daily, Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, $55 and $80, 215-546-9000, rittenhousehotel.com.

Camera icon ED HILLE
At the Museum of the American Revolution, a lifelike historical vignette shows a patriot preparing to topple a statue of Britain’s King George.

5. Explore the historic district.

Philadelphia, of course, has some of the most prominent sites from our nation’s battle for independence from Britain, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell at Independence National Historical Park. Park rangers at both locations have a multitude of enthralling stories to enhance your knowledge of the mother country at this transformational time in history. Loyalists might enjoy the towering statue of King George at the nearby Museum of the American Revolution. It’s part of a historical vignette showing the monument’s final moment of glory, just before some wretched colonists pulled the monarch down.

Independence National Historical Park, Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets, most sites free, 215-965-2305, nps.gov/inde. Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. 3rd St., $12-$19 (2-day admission, children under 6 free), 215-253-6731, amrevmuseum.org.

6. Watch a soccer game with other cheering fans.

Known as football across the pond, it’s wildly popular in the UK, where teams like Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea garner a massive following of fans who take to the pubs each week (and often multiple times per week) to watch. So where can you catch a game in Philly? Spots regularly airing the sport include Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant, the Seven Hundred, Tavern on Broad, Tir na Nog, Misconduct Tavern, and more. Many bars support specific clubs so if you have a favorite team, call around to figure out where your fellow fans will be.

Fado, 1500 Locust St.; Seven Hundred, 700 N. Second St.; Tavern on Broad, 200 S. Broad St.; Tir na Nog, 1600 Arch St.; Misconduct Tavern, 1511 Locust St.

7. Feast on fish and chips.

The quintessentially British meal has been around since the mid-19th century and remains a proud part of British culture. In Philly, you’ll find the fried fish and potato pairing as a regular item on the menu at places including the Olde Bar, Victoria Freehouse, the Dandelion, and Memphis Taproom. To enjoy the meal like a real Brit, be sure to douse your chips in a side of vinegar before consuming.

Olde Bar, 125 Walnut St.; Victoria Freehouse, 10 S. Front St.; Dandelion, 124 S. 18th St.; Memphis Taproom, 2331 E. Cumberland St.

Camera icon Michael Bryant
A brass dog decorates a bar rail in the veddy British restaurant the Dandelion.

8. Cozy up at a pub.

Gather some friends, order a pint, and settle in at your favorite neighborhood watering hole. The British pub is an everlasting part of that region’s cultural fabric, viewed more as a gathering space than a place to simply get drunk. Leisurely lingering is encouraged, and we recommend you set some time to do just that. For a truly homey, pub-like atmosphere in Philadelphia, consider the Dandelion, Victoria Freehouse, Fountain Porter, the Cambridge, Devil’s Den, and the Black Sheep Pub, just to name a few. At the Black Sheep, you can shoot darts Tuesday through Saturday.

Dandelion, 124 S. 18th St.;  Victoria Freehouse, 10 S. Front St.; Fountain Porter, 1601 S, 10th St.; the Cambridge, 1508 South St.; Devil’s Den, 11th and Ellsworth St.; Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th St.

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